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Posts Tagged ‘Alex Cora’

Entering this week, I seriously felt like I was watching the Sox in the middle of the season.  You know, that time when all the aches and pains start to set in.  And it’s not exactly the world’s most comforting feeling to see a team affected like they’ve played eighty-plus games when they’ve only played eleven.

Beckett got sick.  And it showed on Friday, when the Pirates had their way with him while he coughed up a lung between pitches.  Although he’ll probably get the nod to start Opening Day.  Also during Friday’s game, John Farrell got to watch his son get a hit.  I’m not happy that the Pirates made contact off of one of our pitchers, but I have to admit that that must have been pretty awesome for Farrell.

Dice-K strained his neck.  But progress is promising: he threw forty batting-practice pitches on Wednesday, and another ten to a still batter.  The best part is that all of them were strikes.  He’s scheduled to start a minor league game today, so I’m hopeful.  Also, congratulations to him and his family on the birth of his third child and second daughter.

Jed Lowrie contracted mono.  What is this, the All-Star break? It’s only Spring Training, and the team already looked like it was feeling it.  That’s not good news.

And that’s not even mentioning Ryan Westmoreland’s surgery on Wednesday to remove a cavernous malformation in his brain.  (Basically, that’s a mass of tangled blood cells in his brain stem.) He’s only nineteen years old and was in the process of living the dream: being one of his favorite team’s top prospects.  Thankfully, the surgery went well, and he has started his recovery.  But the recovery won’t be easy.  I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say he’s in our thoughts, and we hope he’ll be better soon.

On Wednesday, Beltre showed us what he’s working with.  He made a play that was basically the exact reason why we signed him.  Cora hit a ball that nailed Lackey in the bottom of his shoe.  It rolled away from him, so Beltre barehanded it while in the air to first, and the throw was a lot more powerful than it normally would have been given the circumstances.  It was one of those critics-silencing, leather-flashing, worth-proving plays you see in Spring Training that finally convinces you that, as usual, Theo Epstein knew exactly what he was doing.  Lackey was fantastic for four (it’s a joy to watch him, partly because works really quickly) but Ramon Ramirez squandered it.  I don’t care if it’s only Spring Training and the results technically don’t count: you never want to hear that your bullpen squandered it.  Ever.  Thankfully, the squandering did not involve Paps.  On the bright side, Big Papi has a hitting streak going, which included a homer on Monday.  I’m telling you, I think he’s going to come back.

Thursday was big.  The Major League squad got the day off, so Buchholz went down the street to pitch in a minor league contest.  He did so to keep on a five-day schedule, to see if he could handle joining the rotation.  Trust me, he handled it.  Forty-five pitches over four innings of one-hit ball with four K’s and no walks.  What this means is that we currently have six options for a five-man rotation.  Folks, this is about to get really interesting, really quickly.

No, seriously.  You might be thinking the decision will be easy because Wake is running out of steam, especially after he got lit up on Monday, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  He threw five shutout innings yesterday and threw another simulated two in the bullpen afterwards.  He is really on pace to put up a fight for that fifth starting spot.  (Delcarmen threw shutout frame.  What a relief, no pun intended.) Having too many starters is a very good problem to have, and this year it looks like that’s more concrete than last year.  Our abundance of starters at the beginning of ’09 didn’t exactly pan out like we thought it would, but this year all six are proven, solid, and capable, and that translates to options come playoff time.  Also, Youk and Scutaro both homered in the contest, which we won, not surprisingly.

John Smoltz has been hired by TBS and MLB Network as an analyst even though he claims that he’s not ready to retire yet.  Yeah, right.  We’ve seen this a million times, and I bet he’ll announce his retirement pretty soon anyway.  We welcome back Alan Embree, who recorded the final out in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS, with a minor league contract and Major League invite.  Ah, memories.  He had a tough season last year: a line drive broke his leg and that was the end of it.  But if he can bounce back and maybe pitch effectively a bit in Fenway, that’s something I’d like to see during a slugfest or something.  Just for old times’ sake.

So the week did end up improving, with plenty of flashes of brilliance to go around.  And the best part? Opening Day is only two weeks away! And with the weather warming up like it has been recently and the first day of spring yesterday, baseball is definitely in the air.  It’s only a matter of time before we’re tuning in for that first pitch.  (Which will be thrown in the dark.  Thank you once again, ESPN.  And like I said, if I sound bitter, it’s because I am.  It’s Opening Day, not Opening Night, but apparently somebody missed that memo.) And from what I’ve seen in Spring Training so far, I really like our chances this year.  So bring it.

The Bruins lost two and won one this week.  Savard is on the injured reserve.  Thomas has no idea what’s going on.  Meanwhile, we’re four points below the Habs and one point above the Thrashers barely clinging to the last seed in the conference.  Something must be done.

Kelly O’Connor

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Mixed results this week, but we’ll go with the good stuff first.  And few things are better in the offseason than tipping your hat to a new Hall of Famer.  Congratulations, Jim Rice, on making it in! It’s about time; it certainly took the writers long enough.  But 382 home runs, 1,451 RBIs, and 14 tries later, the man is in! And he deserves it.  Add to those stats a .298 career batting average and the 1978 American League MVP Award and just try to tell me he’s not Hall material.  Finally, Jim Rice gets his due.  And we’re not talking landslide here; he appeared on 76.4% of the ballots and garnered 412 votes, 1.4% and 7 more than the necessary amounts.  But, he’s in.  Finally.  Just sayin’.  And who could forget his good Samaritan moment in ’82, when an opponent’s foul ball hit a four-year-old in the forehead, and the kid started bleeding heavily.  Rice ran into the stands and got to him before the medics and carried him to an ambulance.  He saved the kid’s life.  How’s that for a Hall of Famer.

John Smoltz has been officially introduced, and I think his friend Tom Glavine said it best:

I know it’s going to be fun for him playing in Boston.  I’m envious that he’ll be playing in Boston and I never got to play in Boston.

Again, just sayin’.  But wait; there’s more.  Turns out that Youk and Theo finally reached a consensus; he’s locked up through 2012 with a four-year contract extension and an option for 2013, and that, my friends, is definitely something to be happy about.  I mean he’s probably the best first baseman out there right now; two seasons ago he didn’t make an error all year and last season he split time seamlessly between first and third.  And that’s just his defense.  You have to like Theo’s style: building a team with home-grown talent.  I’m a big fan.  It’s always a plus when your team has a front office and a business side that you can respect.  That’s way more than I can say for most other organizations around the league, especially one in particular, and we all know what I’m referring to.  The Yankees will deliver $180 million to a single player over eight years.  The Red Sox will distribute $14 million to five guys for one year each.  What this does is it maintains our financial flexibility, and in a depressed market that’s absolutely key.  When other teams are busy unloading contracts in the middle of the season, we’re busy weighing our options and taking advantage of opportunities.  The whole Tex thing wasn’t pretty, but as I said you never know.  In Theo we trust, as they say.

But, as always, it’s never smooth sailing, even with the home-grown boys.  Papelbon filed for arbitration, so unless he and the front office reach an agreement within the next few days, let the games begin.  I really hope this doesn’t get ugly.  To be fair, he does deserve some kind of raise.  We paid him $775,000 last season, which was an absolute steal.  I don’t even want to think about how many figures he’d command on the market.  Javier Lopez filed also, and he was surprisingly consistent last season.  I wouldn’t necessarily give him a raise this time around, but if his consistency continues he could be in line to become our principle setup man (unless Okajima permanently returns to form, which would be awesome, because the dude was bringin’ it in ’07).

Last but not least, negotiations with Jason Varitek have taken a surprising turn.  Varitek actually asked to meet with John Henry in Atlanta and said afterwards that the meeting “went well.” That’s a very good sign.  Let’s recap: this past season was the last year in Tek’s four-year contract, so he filed for free agency in October.  He was offered arbitration but declined because who but Scott Boras was convinced that he’d be able to land a long-term deal and a nice pile of cash elsewhere, but that was not going to happen because if another team signed him, it’d have to concede a first-round draft pick to us.  Granted, it’s not over yet, and we’ll still have to wait and see, but either way I think it’s safe to say this was an epic fail on Scott Boras’s part.  An epic fail.  Scott Boras epically failed.  I think I’ll say that again: Scott Boras epically, epically failed.

One other thing I’d like to see the front office do in addition to restoring some order to our catcher situation is to lock up a deal with Jason Bay.  He was fantastic.  Came over mid-season with  some big shoes to fill but put the pressure in check and just lit it up.  He’s a natural in the postseason, he runs the bases, he plays the wall nicely, and he’s reasonable price-wise.  Lock it up.

Oh, yeah.  Gabe Kapler is a Ray, and Alex Cora is a Met.  Who knew.

One last point.  On Thursday owners approved a proposal by Bud Selig that ensures that every postseason game will be played through, clearly a response to the ’08 Series’s Game Five, the one that was stopped on account of rain, started again 46 hours later, and eventually proved to be the clincher for the Phillies.  Major League Baseball also adopted a new procedure for determining home-field advantage in tiebreakers for playoff spots.  Instead of a coin toss, it’ll be decided by head-to-head records, intra-division records, and second-half, intra-league records, clearly a response to the White Sox winning home-field advantage by a coin toss and beating the Twins, 1-0, for a playoff spot last year.  I’ll tell you something: Minnesota is not happy right now.  Minnesota is seething right now.

In other news, the Bruins lost to the Caps yesterday, 2-1.  Marc Savard scored our only goal in the second period.  On the bright side, it wasn’t a blowout, but it wasn’t our typically dominant performance.  No, sir.

Frank Galasso

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Not much wheeling and dealing went on for us this past week.  I mean the rumor mill never stops, but Theo’s been biding his time like he always does.  And in the end it all works out.  We’ve hired Tim Bogar as our new first base coach, we’ve extended arbitration to Tek, and we’re about to sign Japanese righty Junichi Tazawa.  The Tigers may be interested in Alex Cora as a low-budget option for shortstop, the Angels are pursuing CC Sabathia instead of Mark Teixeira, and Clay Buchholz seems to have rebounded nicely in the Arizona Fall League.  Let’s hope he’ll have his act together for ’09, because his ’08 was just abysmal.  I don’t even want to talk about it.  There was a stretch where he was like a younger version of Mike Timlin: as soon as he steps on the mound, it’s a loss.  So I hope he’s back to his ’07 form, preferably something reminiscent of, oh, I don’t know, say a certain game against the Baltimore Orioles in September?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank our team for giving back.  The Red Sox do more in the community than any other team I’ve seen.  I’ve said this before, and here are some stats to prove it.  We raised $4,800,000 at the 2008 Jimmy Fund telethon.  Since its creation in 2002, the Red Sox Foundation has raised $29 million.  The Red Sox Foundation’s current project is a rehabilitative assistance program for war veterans at the Brockton Veterans Administration Medical Center, and players participate routinely in this program.  During the offseason, our activities extend not just to communities in Boston but also to communities in New England, across the country, and across the world.  For example, David Ortiz will host his golf classic in the Dominican Republic.  So far this year, Red Sox players, managers, and coaches have participated in 541 community activities, setting a new club record.  Let’s keep in mind here that participation in these activities is done after hours, so we’re talking thousands of off-the-clock hours of volunteer work.  That’s a lot of hours.  And 369 of those 541 activities took place during the regular and playoff seasons.  As far as other individual players go, Youk hosted an entertainment event at for his Hits for Kids Charity.  Josh Beckett and Manny Delcarmen each held bowling tournaments.  Mikey Lowell hosted a dance competition in which almost all of the players participated.  Tim Wakefield works year-round with many different charities and devotes many of his efforts to children with illnesses.  So as you can see, the reasons to be a part of Red Sox Nation just keep coming.  Hearing something like this just makes you really proud.

In other news, the Pats defeated the Dolphins, 48-28, but were then crushed by the Steelers, 33-10.  But if there’s one team in Boston that needs talking about, it’s the Bruins.  Unquestionably the Bruins.  Their last two games were wins: a 7-2 burial of the Islanders followed the next day by a 4-1 burial of the Red Wings.  And that last one is pretty important, because we all thought the Red Wings were stacked when they landed Marian Hossa in the off-season.  Turns out they’re beatable; who knew? And not only that, we’re 8-1-1 in our last ten games, and our 36 points tops the Eastern Conference and is second in the NHL, only five behind San Jose’s 41.  We’re playing outstanding hockey so far this season.  Outstanding.  Sometimes I can’t even believe what I’m seeing.  The veterans are as sharp as ever, and the young guys are really stepping it up.  After years of frustration we’ve got a team that can potentially win the Stanley Cup.  Imagine that; the Stanley Cup comes back to Boston.  It’s got a nice ring to it.

Flickr Photo

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Wow. Dustin Pedroia is on an absolute roll. He is clearly the best second baseman in the league. Clearly. And if he doesn’t get MVP I’d say there’s something seriously wrong with this picture. We’re talking CC-over-Beckett-for-Cy-Young wrong. Pedroia the Destroyah’s latest honor is his first career Silver Slugger award. He’s the fourth player in Red Sox history to win a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in the same season; Dwight Evans, Ellis Burks, and Tek were the first three. We’ve had a player on the Silver Slugger team in each of the past eight seasons. Unfortunately, Aubrey Huff of the Orioles snapped Ortiz’s four-season Silver Slugger streak. Understandable, though, considering his injury-ridden season this year. Anyway, the MVPs are announced on Tuesday, and I fully expect Dustin to win it.

Jon Lester won the Hutch Award for courage from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and Jacoby Ellsbury won the James Bell Legacy Award for steals. He led the American League and broke the rookie record with fifty. Dice-K placed fourth in the Cy Young voting. True, his outings this year were on the short side, but I thought he would’ve done a lot better. The winner was obviously Cliff Lee, followed by Roy Halladay and Francisco Rodriguez. Dice-K’s 18-3 record was good for fourth in the American League in wins, his 2.90 ERA was good for third, and his .211 opponent’s average was good for first. He truly perfected his Houdini strategy; opponents finished the season 0 for 14 with the bases loaded. The only drawback? His 94 walks led the American League. That and his short outings did him in.

Baseball Insider of USA Today evaluated all thirty Major League Baseball teams in nine categories over the past five years and ranked us number one overall. I have to say I’m not surprised. I mean look at what we’ve done over the past five years: four postseason appearances and two World Series titles. Not to mention our successes in the regular season, in the offseason, in the front office, and in the farms. So it’s true. It is absolutely true. We are the team to beat, and we are in the process of becoming the team of the decade.

The two-week exclusive negotiation period between Tek and the Sox is over. Theo had some discussions with Scott Boras, but obviously as I said the length of the deal is likely proving to be an issue. Big Papi has stated that he wants another slugger on the team; in my opinion, that would be Teixeira. I would say that Matt Holliday could be an option, but he’s already been traded to the A’s. Of all the teams, it had to be the A’s. Every team has a few teams that, for whatever reason, they just can’t handle. For us, it’s the Jays in September, lately the Rays, and the A’s. The A’s sweep us at least once a season. So of all the teams to which he could’ve been traded, it had to be Oakland. That’s great. That’s just great. As far as the rest of the free agent market is concerned, we’re also probably looking into Ben Sheets, AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe, Sean Casey, and Alex Cora. Rumor has it that we might even be interested in Rocco Baldelli.

In other news, the New York Jets defeated the Pats on Thursday to secure first place. They won it by a score of 34-31 with a field goal in overtime. But I think the Boston sports highlight of the week had to be Thursday’s game between the Bruins and the Habs. We completely crushed them, literally and physically. Our 6-1 rout ended our twelve-game losing streak against the Canadiens. And the fight between Milan Lucic and Mike Komisarek was absolutely epic. I mean that was a great hockey fight. Complete and total domination. Lucic clearly won that one. We did lose to the Rangers in overtime last night, but on the upside we’ve won eight of our last ten, and our 24 points is good for first place.

MLB Photo

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Sadly, for us, baseball season has come to a close a little too early, and usually when we’re in this situation it’s because something’s not right and we need to fix it.  We ask ourselves what we should do now.  But this year it’s a little different.  The Rays barely hung onto the division and barely made it to the World Series.  We don’t have debilitating flaws.  It makes you wonder how unstoppable we’d be if we hadn’t had to battle injuries and late major trades.

And that’s just it.  We don’t have that many offseason decisions to make because, for all intents and purposes, we’re already golden for next year.  Just like in 2006 and 2007, the injuries piled themselves on this year but next year it’ll be smooth sailing in the health department.  The new guys have gotten used to the city, and now that they’ve tasted October baseball they’ll want more.

But there are still some issues that need to be addressed.  Issue number one: Jason Varitek.  We love the man.  He’s our captain for a reason.  He’s a mentor to the younger players, he handles the pitchers very well, he’s caught a record four no-hitters, he’s a leader on and off the field, and he still has his moments.  Those moments, unfortunately, are becoming more and more sporadic though, and it’s not clear that the offense can afford to simply consider him an “easy out” with the assumption that he won’t hit anything and then be pleasantly surprised when he does.  It’s true that the position of catcher isn’t known for its offensive production, but it’s also true that catchers who can hit do exist.  I see three solutions here.  One is to give Tek something like a three-year deal and also take on a young catcher, and have Tek and the new catcher split playing time, such that the new guy learns from Tek and Tek becomes his mentor and teaches him everything he knows.  That way, when Tek reaches the end of his deal, we’ll have a Tek, Jr. to take the reigns.  A second solution would just be to have Kevin Cash fill the role of Tek, Jr.  He’s got a great arm and his offense has potential.  The third option I’m seeing is to keep Tek, not as a player, but as a kind of coach for the pitchers.  Sort of an assistant to John Farrell.  That way the pitchers as well as the rest of the clubhouse can benefit from his presence and leadership without having to feel pressure to compensate for his lack of offensive production.

Another concern will obviously be Mikey Lowell.  He’s set to have surgery on his right hip soon.  He’s getting old.  He spent most of the second half on the DL, and when he did play this season, he didn’t show signs of being as dominant as he was last season.  I’m not saying his outstanding 2007 was a fluke.  I’m just saying that it’s going to be more and more unlikely that his numbers will be comparable in the future.  We might want to consider taking on another starting third baseman, just in case.  This will allow Mark Kotsay to go back to being a spare outfielder, which is something else we need, and it’ll allow Youk to go back to first and get himself another Gold Glove.

I’d like to strongly suggest that we make Jed Lowrie our starting shortstop permanently.  Since Nomar we haven’t had stability or reliable offensive production from the shortstop position, and signing Julio Lugo to a five-year contract was supposed to take care of that.  We all know how that turned out.  Ironically, he came over from Tampa Bay, and little did we know that it would be a complete disaster.  The differences between the defensive and offensive abilities of Jed Lowrie and Julio Lugo are absolutely staggering, and after spending so much time watching such talent and potential between second and third base I don’t think I can go back to watching error after error and out after out.  I’d also like to strongly suggest that we keep Alex Cora and Sean Casey on board for 2009.  Alex Cora is a great utility guy, and Sean Casey hits line drives like nobody’s business.

In terms of pitching, it’s difficult to say.  Theo Epstein isn’t worried about Beckett, and after his most recent postseason start I think that’s justified.  Next year we’re in line to have three aces on our staff: Beckett, Dice-K, and Lester.  We’ll have Wake, too, and the good news is that as a knuckleballer the quality of his pitching won’t decline.  (The quality of his pitching at present is a completely different story.) But we’re going to need a reliable fifth starter.  I’d like to see Justin Masterson fill that spot.  He made a handful of starts this year and rocked in all of them.  As for the bullpen, let me state first that Mike Timlin should retire immediately.  I don’t even want to count how many games he lost for us this year, and don’t even get me started on Game 2 of the ALCS.  Even if he doesn’t retire, we’ll need at least one more reliever, two if Masterson does go back to being a starter.  The more airtight our relief is, the more invincible we’ll be.  Think about it.  A pitching staff that includes Dice-K, Beckett, Lester, Papelbon, Okajima, and Delcarmen is pretty formidable already.  Some additions and improvements could make us lights-out for the full nine innings.

In other news, Big Papi’s wrist is fine and he won’t need surgery in the offseason.  Tito, however, is scheduled to have surgery on his back.  I give him a lot of credit.  Boston is a tough place to manage, and he makes it look easy.  He is officially one of the greatest managers in the game.  The Patriots completely decimated the Broncos and won on Monday night by a score of 41-7.  And after six games, the Bruins are third in their division with a record of 2-1-3 for a total of seven points in the standings.  Manny Fernandez and Patrice Bergeron are back in action this season, and Bergeron, PJ Axelsson, and Andrew Ference are this year’s assistant captains with Zdeno Chara wearing the C.  Chuck Kobasew is on the injured reserve.  The Red Sox and Patriots have been doing some serious winning lately, and it’s becoming painfully obvious that the Bruins need a Stanley Cup.

I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I congratulate the 2008 Boston Red Sox, the American League Division champions! True, our October didn’t end like it could have or should have, but remember, there’s always next year.  And there’s always last year.

Comcast SportsNet: The Hub

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That’s all, folks.  The regular season is over for the Boston Red Sox.  After all the injuries and trades and predictions and speculations, the second season is finally here.  And we’re in.  Granted, we’re not as solidly in as we’d like to be.  We had to get in with the Wild Card and the Yankees just took two of three from us, but nonetheless we’re in.  And we’re playing the Angels in the ALDS, something we’re very comfortable with.  So I say bring it on.  I want to see us turn it up and show the league what we’ve got.

We lost the first game of the double-header.  It was probably the only time this season that Dice-K’s Houdini routine backfired.  As usual he walked more than his fair share of batters but for some reason the Yankees finally figured out how to act with runners in scoring position.  But that was the least of our problems.  Jonathan Papelbon gave up three runs on four hits in the top of the ninth.  This is now how the best closer in the league should act.  And certainly not right before the playoffs.  That’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.  We’re going to need him in top form in October, and make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen, that what we saw yesterday afternoon was not by any means his top form.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens, I guess.  Anyway, the rest is history.  The final score was 6-2.

The nightcap was much more interesting.  Wakefield pitched five two-hit shutout innings, walked none, and struck out three.  Not a long outing, but definitely one of his more solid outings.  The problem lay in the relief.  Masterson came in and allowed a run on three hits.  Timlin actually pitched a perfect inning for once.  Aardsma came in and allowed two runs on three hits, strengthening the argument that he should be considered a last resort.  A glorified Craig Hansen, if you will.  And Hansack redeemed himself from his last outing with a perfect tenth inning.

RBIs for Carter and Van Every.  Two for Casey.  The only member of the lineup who had a multi-hit night was Alex Cora, who went two for four.  It was a real nailbiter.  It was tied at one until Sean Casey hit a single with the bases loaded in the eighth to score two runs.  Then the Yanks tied it back up in the top of the ninth, but we all know how it turned out.  The final score was 4-3, and it ended with a run in our half of the tenth inning.

I have to hand it to the Fenway Park grounds grew.  They worked really hard this weekend to keep everything in order and make sure the field is dry, so they definitely deserve a hearty “Thank you” for all of their good work.  Keep it up!

In other news, Mikey Lowell might not be playing in Game 1 of the ALDS, an oblique strain has moved Josh Beckett’s start to Game 3 in favor of Lester for Game 1, and JD Drew will be appearing in the postseason.  Dustin Pedroia will finish the season with a .326 bagging average, good for second in the American League.  But MVP is based on more than just stats, and he’s definitely the MVP in my book.  Johnny Pesky’s number was retired, making him the sixth Red Sox player to receive that honor.  His No. 6 now sits between Joe Cronin’s No. 2 and Yaz’s No. 8.  Congratulations to Mr. Red Sox!

Let’s face it: we’re always different in October.  In October, we get a second wind, and it’s all we need.  It’s almost like there’s some kind of reserve that we tap into in the postseason that makes our team have All-Star quality.  Even if we had a horrible season and only managed to snag the Wild Card by the skin of our teeth, we’d still be a formidable opponent because in October something just clicks.  That’s why it’s called Soxtober.  We own it.

The party starts on Wednesday at 10:00PM when Jon Lester takes on John Lackey on the West Coast.  Let’s go Red Sox!

Getty Images

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We all knew it was coming, and now that it’s finally here we know we got what we deserve: a playoff spot.  Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been invited to October! Now that is when the fun begins.  It’s been a pretty strange season in many ways, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Sox do with this opportunity.  Obviously we can go all the way.  There’s no question about that.  And hopefully we’ll crush the Angels in the ALDS as usual.

Tim Wakefield picked up the win, possibly his biggest win all season.  Four runs on six hits with a walk and six K’s over six innings pitched.  The bullpen pitched four shutout innings.  Delcarmen, Okajima, Masterson, Lopez, and Papelbon all held their own, and Pap struck out two and didn’t give up a single hit.  I knew in time he’d come around.

The final score was 5-4, so the offense was right in the mix.  One RBI for Bay and two for Youkilis, who hit a spectacular two-run homer off Lee in the fourth.  But this time it was Dustin Pedroia, the should-be American League MVP, who had the big offensive night.  Two for four with a run and two RBIs.  No strikeouts.  Not much in the speed department though; Cora was caught stealing second.

Needless to say the game was followed by quite the party.  I think it’s a nice touch that Tito and the coaches let the players have their pile-up and do their thing before they come at them.  It just gives the team a chance to celebrate all they’ve been through together.  And it’s fitting that all of this came against the Tribe, what with last October and all.

In other news, after thirteen straight playoff appearances it looks like the Yankees will retire to the golf course this fall.  In short, life is good.  The Red Sox will retire Johnny Pesky’s No. 6.

There’s still the division, and we want it.  There’s been a lot of speculation about what we’ll do in October this year.  I’m actually not too worried about it.  We’ll do what we do.  Recently that’s been winning the World Series.  We’re in a position to make a solid run for it and win it again.  We’re the defending world champions, and we will defend that title.  Congratulations, team! You’ve earned it.  After everything you’ve been through this season, you’ve certainly earned it.  Red Sox Nation thanks you from the bottom of its heart.  After so many years of curses and losses, October finally feels like home.

AP Photo

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